Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 27, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     3/3/15

In this edition:

*Gold and White
*Kingsley Botchway
*Lying About War
*Giving Back
*Affordable Homes Discussion
*St. Patrick’s Day Party!
*Did You Know?

*Gold and White
         Need I say more?  J

*Kingsley Botchway
         Kingsley Botchway is my friend. I’ll just put that out there. I have been thinking recently about this friend of mine, and I realized that his situation deserved a mention in Salvos.

         What is his “situation”, you ask? Well, as I see it, Kingsley is under a great deal of pressure.

         In his day job, Kingsley is employed as the Equity Director for the ICCSD. If you follow the news at all, you are aware of the ICCSD issues with the Diversity Policy, MLK Day, redistricting, disproportionate minority punishment, difficulty recruiting and retaining minority faculty, and other hot button issues. Kingsley stepped into the middle of all of these issues when he became the Equity Director.

         None of these issues is an easy fix. Emotions run high in each case. People have very high expectations. And people expect Kingsley to make it all better.

         That is just his day job. Kingsley is also a member of the Iowa City Council. As the youngest Councilor in years, many young people have placed their hopes and dreams squarely on his shoulders. As the only person of color on the Council, many people of color have placed their hopes and dreams squarely on his shoulders. As one of only a couple progressives on the Council, many progressives have placed their hopes and dreams squarely on his shoulders. No pressure there!
An example: at the 2/23 Council meeting, Iowa City discussed a TIF for the 15 story private student housing building to be built on Madison Street. The developer had made a few interesting concessions on both the structure of the TIF and affordable housing. Were these concessions worth a yes vote?

Kingsley wanted to negotiate further, but Councilor Mims made it clear the time for negotiation was over. (Despite the fact that this was the first time the Council had discussed anything publicly.) So Kingsley was stuck. Take it or leave it. He voted for the project.

I’m sure a number of folks wish Kingsley had joined Councilor Throgmorton in opposition. Others are no doubt pleased that he chose to be pragmatic and take what staff had negotiated. Regardless of how you feel about this specific project, one should be able to see that deciding how to vote in this case was a struggle for Kingsley.

         Like everyone else, I have high expectations for Kingsley. We are all hungry for leadership, and in this young man, we see reason for hope. That is good. But we must also know that he cannot do it alone.

         Yes, hold him accountable. But also lend him a hand. Support him. Be kind to him. He needs your help. Then great things will come.

*Lying About War
         In just the past couple of weeks, we have seen several prominent Americans – Bill O’Reilly, Brian Williams, VA Secretary Robert McDonald – all lie about the role they played in various military action.

         I have a foolproof solution! Let’s get American troops out of all these places around the globe. Reduce the size of our military, especially arms projects the Pentagon doesn’t even want. Cut that bloated budget by 10%, but allow the experts to decide how to do the cutting. (The only exceptions being no cut in pay for enlisted men and no cuts to VA benefits.) Stop all drone strikes. Focus on keeping Americans safe here at home. Ramp up diplomacy. Get the hell out of the middle east. Butter, not guns.

         Once we do that, O’Reilly, Williams, and the rest will have to find something else to lie about!

*Giving Back
         It will not belong before we have a gaggle of candidates for City Councils and School Boards. And when asked why they decided to run, 80% will answer with some version of, “I just want to give back.”

         Ah, the candidate who “wants to give back.” This is a pet peeve of mine. For several reasons.

         First, I think there is more truth to this statement that most candidates even realize. Assuming the candidate was born in the US, she has been given a lot by her government. There are no wars at home. She was born in a hospital with access to amazing healthcare infrastructure. Public health infrastructure then got her vaccinated, and ensures that her food, water, air, and medical products are safe. She had access to all sorts of goods, services, and information, because of public roads, airports, and utilities. Public schools were available for our candidate. She was protected by fire, police, EMS, and the legal system. Her student loans made college possible. As her parents aged, they accessed Medicare and Medicaid. And now, she has the right to vote and run for office.

         I’ve been to Haiti. These things we take for granted are NOT there for much of the world’s population. So when our candidate says she wants to “give back,” I think it is important to recognize that an American can never truly repay the fantastic system into which she was born. We are all damned lucky.

         Secondly, some of the folks who “just want to give back” think they made it on their own. She is where she is because of her own hard work, period. And people who have not succeeded simply have not tried hard enough.

         I think she is wrong. Just look at the long paragraph above. Had she been born in Saudi Arabia, no amount of hard work would have mattered. Same with China, Ivory Coast, and most of the countries on planet earth. By being born in the US, you won the birth lottery. Hard work is a great thing, and it should be commended. But there are many more variables.

         Thirdly, let’s assume you disagree with my last point. But you still want to “give back”. What are you giving, and to whom? If our candidate is selected by local business leaders, she is likely to “give back” to them. What does it mean to each candidate when she says she is “giving back”? What are you giving? To whom? When? How?

         My final problem with the statement, “I just want to give back,” is that it implies the candidate has no real agenda except to do good.

         Well, that ain’t how things work. If you are running for elected office and have no agenda, DO NOT RUN! Elected officials should be running on a set of ideas. If all our candidate wants to do is “give back”, she is either stupid or covering up her real intentions.

         “Giving back” is a nice sentiment. It simply does not work in the real world of politics.

*Affordable Homes Discussion
On March 11th at 5:30pm at the Coralville Library, the Affordable Homes Coalition is hosting a panel discussion on Affordable Housing. This is a chance for all of us -- activists, general public, public officials, the press -- to learn from people who live in affordable homes about the impact of these homes on their lives.

Reverend John McKinstry of First Christian Church will moderate the panel. Please come and bring a friend!

*St. Patrick’s Day Party!
         We are having a St. Patrick’s Day Party on Tuesday, March 17 from 4:30-8:30pm at our home in Iowa City.

         The party is serving as a fundraiser for Sullivan for Supervisor. That said, please do not feel obligated to donate – you can just show up! We would request that anyone who plans on attending please RSVP so we know what to expect. Just reply to this email address.

*DID YOU KNOW?  We are past Presidents Day, but this bit of trivia is too good to ignore: the 10th president of the United States was John Tyler, who was born in 1790, and he has two living grandsons. You read that sentence correctly! John Tyler has two living grandsons!

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website-

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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